Trailblazer Takes His Knack Pack to Antarctica

In this week's One Bag Life Blog, we are featuring Dr. Calvin D. Sun, a Clinical Assistant Professor and board-certified Physician specializing in Emergency Medicine, a public speaker, activist, choreographer, and entrepreneur based in NYC. He is is also the Founder & CEO of The Monsoon Diaries: a blog-turned-travel community that has taken hundreds of readers to 190+ countries in the past 10 years including North Korea, Nauru, Greenland, and Antarctica. The Monsoon Diaries has since been featured on BBC News, ABC News, MSNBC, TED, National Geographic, and USA Today. 

He recently took his Series 2 Large Expandable Knack Pack on an epic trip to Antarctica, and he is giving all of us a glimpse at his incredible journey, as well as tips on what to pack for a trip to the North Pole.

​​Where and when exactly was your most recent destination? 

Last week to Svalbard/Spitsbergen, from the northernmost settlements in the world all the way up towards the North Pole!

What made you decide to go there?

"Why not?" :)  Oceanwide Expeditions and YPT — 2 partner companies that I traveled with to both Antarctica (2014) and Greenland (2019) had asked me in 2019 if I would join along for a free spot if I brought a group, and I said “sure!”

What’s the most unforgettable moment?

Sailing as far north as you can go underneath a midnight sun, stripping down for the polar plunge into freezing waters as a trip tradition, suturing my own laceration while sailing towards the North Pole, breakdancing on the helipad at the 80th parallel north, early polar bear sightings, sailing side by side with blue whales for the whole afternoon, unreal landscapes you’ll never be able to describe with words when you reach these extreme edges of the world, and all the meaningful conversations with so many strangers-turned-family that can only happen when you’re all on an expedition vessel that’s so far up north and off-the-grid without any internet or data.

For a destination like that, what are the must-have items in your Series 2 Large Knack Pack?

S2 Large Knack Pack

For the cold and extreme changes in weather:

  • Glove liners
  • Mittens/Ski Gloves
  • Balaclava
  • Scarves
  • Spare waterproof jacket
  • Extra thermal layers
  • Toe and hand warmers

For the longer airplane rides that get me there and back:

  • Laptop
  • Headphones
  • Chargers
  • Melatonin
  • Neck Pillow
  • Portable charger
  • Sleeping eyemask
  • Earplugs
  • For the photography:
  • 80-200mm f2.8 telephoto lens
  • GoPro
  • Spare batteries
  • Tiny hands!

For the longer hikes up these lesser visited spots:

  • First-aid kit
  • Medicine bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Water thermos/jug
  • Music speakers (attached by a carabiner)

For meeting new friends:

  • Stickers
  • Business Cards
  • Pens
  • Notebook
For fixing things:
  • Superglue
  • Tape
  • Headlamp
  • Penlight/Torch

Dr. Sun appreciates how his Knack Pack held up in a hostile environment like Antarctica and how much he can put into it without breaking his back. Before his trip, he also posted about how much he likes his Knack’s many pockets and compartments on his IG stories.


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